ABILENE – It was a frigid night, with a cold wind blowing in. However, I can guarantee you that no one left Shotwell Stadium without being warmed by the scene on hand.
The cheerleaders of 50+ towns – drawn together over the bus wreck of the Iraan cheer bus that cost the Braves the life of a cheerleading sponsor – took up two full sections of Shotwell’s home side, and were loud the entire time.
The chill of the night air was suddenly disrupted by a hard hitting contest, set in motion by two Iraan fast starts. Iraan Head Coach Mark Kirchhoff was ecstatic about the quick scoring drives at the beginning of each half, saying, “Our defense did a good job, got their three-and-out, we came out and ran a little veer game and had them confused. We don’t throw the ball a lot, but we can, and we took advantage of that and hit a big touchdown.”
Iraan scored quickly in the first quarter thanks to a 43-yard strike from quarterback Clayton Kent to wide receiver Canon Andrews. Wellington opted for a slightly more deliberate approach, running the veer and all its variations for small chunks of yardage. Both teams kept the ball on the ground, and ran very effectively, each scoring twice more to make it 21-14 before Wellington’s Brendan Stevens picked off Clayton Kent to send us into the half.
If anyone thought Iraan was going to be timid coming out of the gates, they were sorely mistaken. The Braves’ Kyle O’Bannon took the 2nd half kickoff back to the house, and Iraan had the gap it needed. Wellington threatened again, but a fumble inside the 20 set up another long Kyle O’Bannon touchdown, putting the Braves up 35-14.
After that, it was the defenses of both teams that came into play, with neither team punching the ball in until the 4th quarter. Wellington’s James Kilgore broke the plane to bring Wellington back within striking distance, but the Braves were ultimately too much for the Skyrockets, and cruised to a 42-21 victory.
Kirchhoff was elated about the victory, saying, “We play physical football. A lot of heart, a lot of belief in each other, and we executed well in the veer game. Wellington gave us a little bit of problems with their six-man front, but we just thought it was a matter of time in the second half where we popped a couple and just kept grinding it out.”
Kirchhoff was incredibly complimentary of his team as well, saying “That’s the thing about this group of kids, they just love to play the game. They love to play the game. And that’s every day.”
When asked about what this performance meant to Iraan, Kirchhoff said, “It means a lot to our school and community. It’s a place to start healing. Of course, in Texas, there’s nothing better than high school football, and that’s a focal point in our community from the first of August. To be able to come here, and to have the support that we had on the road here, like I’ve said before, the human spirit is alive and well.”
Wellington Band plays Amazing Grace for Iraan. pic.twitter.com/kG71lZ9Klg
— Christoval HS (@christovalhs) December 10, 2016
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